Obama Rejects Public Financing, “Declares Independence”

Screenshot from Obama\'s site.

On Barack Obama’s website, his campaign asks potential contributors to

“declare their independence”–and to give him their money.

Barack Obama just did what we all thought he would, but in a much more clever way.

The Illinois senator’s campaign emailed a video to supporters today announcing his decision to turn down$84.1 million in taxpayer-provided financing for the general election this November. The move was expected since his incredible fundraising machine generated $95 million in February and March alone (see our post from February 27).  However, this is the first time since the system was created that a major candidate has ever rejected the public funds, and it is especially interesting in an election where both candidates claim to be champions of ethics and campaign finance reform. McCain is now expected to reject financing himself, in order to be able to keep up with Obama.

What was NOT expected today was the way he and his campaign broke the news: as a “declaration of independence” from a “broken system.” He stressed the loopholes afforded to candidates by unrestricted donations to political parties as well as advocacy groups, such as the famed Swiftboat Veterans for Truth of 2004, one of many so-called “527s”  (named for the section of campaing finance legislation that provides for their existence).

The public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who’ve become masters at gaming this broken system.  John McCain’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs. And we’ve already seen that he’s not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations.

McCain has criticized Obama for going back on his word from when the campaign announced that he would “aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee” to mutually accept public financing. However, Obama has said in the past that if he did reject public funding, his cache of small donations (90% are of $100 or less) is still in the spirit of keeping the influence of the wealthy from overwhelming democracy.

We will see if the media and the public buy into Obama’s call for much-needed reform, or if they see the move as simply hypocritical.  Either way, we can be sure that our next president will make an effort to take the money out politics–at least in his second term.

Obama’s video message [BarackObama.com]

Obama Forgoes Public Funds in First for Major Candidate [New York Times]


McCain favors convenience over justice, calls Supreme Court decision “one of the worst decisions in history”

The Supreme Court ruled this week for the third time confirming that Guantanamo Bay detainees DO have a right to habeas corpus petitions. McCain has responded by calling it “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.” Really? I always thought the Dred Scott case was a bit worse.

The presumptive GOP nominee said the decision, a 5-4 ruling Thursday that determined Guantanamo detainees have the right to seek release in civilian courts, would lead to a wave of frivolous challenges.

“We are now going to have the courts flooded with so-called … habeas corpus suits against the government, whether it be about the diet, whether it be about the reading material. And we are going to be bollixed up in a way that is terribly unfortunate because we need to go ahead and adjudicate these cases,” he said at a town hall meeting in New Jersey.

So, his problem wasn’t that he thinks detainees don’t deserve the right to habeas corpus, but rather that it’ll be to much of a burden on the courts to, you know, do their jobs. Glad to see that convenience is more important to John McCain than justice.

McCain: Guantanamo Ruling One of the “Worst Decisions” in History – [FoxNews]

Democratic Party to refuse lobbyist donations

Today Howard Dean announced that the DNC would not be taking donations from lobbyists or PACs in order to align itself with Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s policy. The following is from an e-mail sent from Dean to members of the Democratic Party mailing list:

Dear (recipient),

I wanted to drop you a quick note about a major policy change here at the Democratic Party.

As we move toward the general election, the Democratic Party has to be the Party of ordinary Americans, not Washington lobbyists and special interests. So, as of this morning, if you’re a federal lobbyist, or if you control political action committee donations, we won’t be accepting your contribution.

This is an unprecedented move for a political party to make — one that has sent shockwaves through Washington and has turned the debate on clean campaigns upside down. We’ve unilaterally agreed to shut lobbyists out of the process, and are we’re relying on people just like you.

Just imagine what hundreds of thousands of Americans donating $20, $30, or $50 at a time can accomplish together. Imagine the signal that it sends to anyone who looks at John McCain’s political machine and the special interest money it needs to fuel every move it makes.

This is a pretty monumental development in American politics and one only hopes that it continues after Barack Obama’s campaign. This is hopefully only one of many examples of change that Sen. Obama hopes to bring to Washington.

Yeah, Obama is taking Minnesota

Final Primary Results

As Obama said last night, primary season is finally over. Here are the results from the last two states.

Obama 56%
Clinton 41%

South Dakota
Clinton 55%
Obama 45%

That leaves the delegate count at (2,118 needed):
Obama: 2,158.5
Clinton: 1,920

Seems like it’s clinched, huh? Maybe someone should tell Hillary that…

Here are last night’s speeches for your viewing pleasure.

Look for Curt in the Obama backdrop tonight!

Just got a message from our very own Civic Alert writer Curt Baker that he’ll be in the backdrop of Obama’s speech tonight in St. Paul. It’s expected to be a big speech, with Obama finally becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee, so I know you’ll be watching anyway. Keep your eyes open and you may just see a friendly face hanging out in the back of this historic moment.

Obama to Visit St. Paul

With such a large portion of our readers being from Minnesota, I thought it would be pertinent to announce that Barack Obama will be at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul this Tuesday, June 3rd for his victory speech after the last of the Democratic primaries, Montana and South Dakota. The speech will most likely mark the beginning of the general election and will be symbolic because it will be in the same venue as the Republican National Convention which will be held from September 1-4th. Sen. Obama’s choice of Minnesota as the host for his victory speech shows just how important our 10 electoral votes will be as a swing state in the general election. Doors are at 7 with the Senator speaking around 9:30-10. The event will be free and seating is first come, first serve.

It starts here – [Pioneer Press]